Summer 2012: Progess report

It didn't take long for this to become the 25th day this year of 90-plus temperatures in Philadelphia.

The normal number of such days for an entire year is 26.

By 10, it had hit 90 at Philadelphia International Airport, marking the 16th time this month the temperature has reached 90 or better.

Before some nighttime fireworks, this may well become the most-uncomfortable day of the season, with heat indices heading toward the low- to mid-100s, and the temperature taking aim at the record, 99.

Perhaps surprisingly, however, the summer of 2012 still has a chance to come in close to normal. Here, we are talking about the meteorological summer, June 1 through Aug. 31.

As of yesterday, it was a shade past half over, and the official temperature since June 1, 77.1, was just 2.1 degrees above the normal, 75.

After a ponderously plodding front pushes away the heat, temperatures Friday, Saturday, Sunday should be quite comfortable, even a few degrees below normal.

The Climate Prediction Center two-week temperature forecast is looking decidedly neutral.

You might recall that back in May the climate center seasonal forecast favored warmth across most of the country. That was based in part on the lack of soil mositure in the heart of the nation.

The thinking was that dry land would allow the sun to heat the ground, which, in turn would allow hot high pressure to build and spread its influence.

That's about what has happened from late June into July. It is easy to forget that the first half of June was on the cool side, with 12 of the first 18 days below normal.

We will go out on a limb here and say that August is totally up for grabs, and we would advise caution in considering any August outlook.

WSI Corp., the Massachusetts firm that provides forecast to the energy industry, has called for a cool August here and elsewhere in the Norheast.

Arguing against it, however, is the spread of drought conditions through much of the country. The latest soil moisture map indicates a disturbingly parched look in the nation's midsection.

You'll note that all of Pennsylvania and New Jersey are in the yellow zone, and as mentioned, last week's U.S. Drought monitor map had about 80 percent of the country in some state of drought.

We should see some relief around here tonight and tomorrow, but we noticed that the National Weather Service has trimmed back the rain-total forecast by about half.

July is well on its way to becoming the seventh-consecutive month with a precipitation deficit, and 2012 on target to become one of the driest on record.

All this can change quickly, however, and by the time those July electric bills arrive, it may well be cooler and wetter.